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A history of Lotus

Esprit. Eclat. Elite. For any petrolheads growing up in the 1970s and 1980s, these names held a certain aura – whether glimpsed among the latest pack of Top Trumps or streaking by on the motorway.

Yes, the 1970s sports car range from British maker Lotus comprised some of the boldest and, frankly, most beautiful models in circulation at the time. We're very fond of that trio of above-mentioned models in particular, and not just because they hail from an era that's right in our wheelhouse when it comes to providing classic car insurance.

1999 Espirit

But what of the car marque that produced these affordable sporting icons? Where had Lotus come from, and where has it been going since those glory days?

The early years: lightweight, high-speed kit cars

Lotus has long been associated with the county of Norfolk, where it has been based since 1966. Its home is on a former World War II airfield, RAF Hethel, and the test track uses sections of the old runway.

The company's origins, however, can be traced back to postwar North London. Engineers Colin Chapman and Colin Dare founded Lotus Engineering Ltd in 1952, in some former stables behind a hotel in Hornsey. Chapman had been tinkering with cars since 1948, when he built his first racing car. And, sure enough, the company was to have strong racing connections throughout its history.

Indeed, Team Lotus broke away from Lotus Engineering in 1954 to pursue Formula One racing – which it did, very successfully, from 1958 right through to 1994. More on that in a moment.

During the 1950s and 1960s, Lotus cars were marketed to private racers and speed trialists, and those early road cars could be bought in kit form, which would save the buyer purchase tax. However, Lotus kit cars were phased out by the early 1970s, and iconic mid-70s versions like the Eclat and Elite were only available as fully assembled cars.

Racing: Team Lotus

Team Lotus started competing in Formula One in 1958. And success didn't take long in coming, with Stirling Moss driving his Lotus 18 to the marque's first Grand Prix win at Monaco in 1960. Bigger things were on their way: in 1963 the Lotus 25 and its driver Jim Clark took the F1 World Constructors' Championship for Team Lotus.

Clark, incidentally, was a major but all too short-lived figure in the team's early history. Coming within a few laps of triumphing again in 1964, Clark did return to win with Lotus in 1965. However, driving a Lotus 48 in 1968's Formula Two season, his rear tyre failed in a turn on Germany's Hockenheim circuit, resulting in a fatal crash. Providing some small recompense, that year's championship was won by Clark's Team Lotus teammate, Graham Hill.

Later Team Lotus drivers included Ayrton Senna (1985-87), Jochen Rindt (1970), Emerson Fittipaldi (1972) and Mario Andretti in 1978, those last three all winning Drivers' Championships for the team.

By the time Team Lotus entered their last F1 race in 1994, their cars had won an impressive 79 Grand Prix races.

Lotus road cars, part 1: The 1950s and 1960s

Lotus' first production car was the single-seater Mark VI (1952-57). Not designed as a road car, the VI was sold to the public in kit form, allowing buyers to add the engine and gearbox of their choice.

The company's first road-legal car, meanwhile, was the Seven – a small and beguilingly simple, lightweight two-seater open-top. Designed by Chapman and produced from 1957 right through 1973, the Seven perfectly illustrates the Lotus philosophy – achieving high performance through keeping the weight down and the engineering simple.

As a road-legal car that could also compete in some race disciplines, the Seven was very popular. Indeed, after Lotus stopped making the car, Caterham bought the rights – and to this day you can buy the Lotus' direct successor, the Caterham 7, in either fully assembled or kit form.

In the same year as the Seven, Lotus brought out the (first) Elite, a lightweight two-seater coupe with a fibreglass monocoque. Its tiny weight (503.5kg) allowed the Elite to get sports car performance out of its 75hp engine. It was, once again, offered as a kit, which wasn't helping Lotus' desire to move upmarket. Somewhere between 1,030 cars and 1,047 of these first Elites were made.

A little later, in 1962, Lotus found itself with a genuine success on its hands, in the shape of the Elan two-seater coupe / roadster (also available as a very handsome four-seater, the Elan +2). The Elan took a step back from the Elite in terms of conventionality: it still retained the use of fibreglass for the body, but this time used a steel backbone chassis, unlike the Elite's all-fibreglass monocoque.

Sales of the Elan helped to fund Team Lotus' motor racing exploits over the next 10 years, which, in turn, fed back valuable prestige into the road-car side of the business. The Elite had been expensive to build and not a commercial success, leaving the company in a tricky financial situation: the Elan helped Lotus on the road to recovery.

As you'd expect from an elegant, fine-driving two-seater that pretty much traversed that stylish decade, the Elan made its mark on the culture. Diana Rigg famously drove one in The Avengers, while real-world owners included Paul Newman and Peter Sellers.

Perhaps the original Elan's greatest contribution to UK motoring culture, though, was the fact that it served as inspiration for the later, hugely popular Mazda MX-5 roadster – now a rock-solid classic in its turn, and one of our most popular models when it comes to providing classic car insurance.

Lotus road cars, part 2: The 1970s

Lotus had made a reasonably strong start with its road cars – however, by the mid-1970s, the company wanted to move somewhat upmarket. And this, for us, ushers in the golden age of Lotus cars – the Elite, Eclat, and that much-coveted, wedge-shaped slice of British automotive chutzpah, the Esprit.

First from this stable, in 1974, came the second-generation Elite – a very different beast from its featherlight, all-fibreglass, loss-making 50s/60s namesake. With its angular, shooting-brake rear end and long swooping bonnet tapering down to (that mid-70s sporting staple) pop-up headlamps, this new Elite drew a little on the Italian 'wedge' style introduced into early Seventies concept cars like the Alfa Romeo Carabo and BMW Turbo. It was designed and priced, meanwhile, to go up against other low-slung, aggressive mid-70s coupes like the Alfa Romeo Montreal and the Citroen SM.

Unlike its predecessor, this new Elite was a four-seater, and offered such upmarket creature comforts as air conditioning and automatic transmission. What it did carry over from previous Lotuses, however, was that fibreglass body shell, mounted on a steel backbone chassis, which also figured in the Elan. The Elite was also significant in that it saw the first use of Lotus' 900 series of engines.

We just love the Elite's rakish looks – that unexpected, arresting mix of 70s wedge and sleek mini-estate. If you're the lucky owner of one of these cars, we salute you (and we're sure you have it protected with the level of classic car insurance that it undoubtedly deserves).

Just in case those looks weren't to everyone's taste, however, the very next year (1975) saw the introduction of the Elite's sister car – the more conventionally styled, still very beautiful Eclat coupé. That more gentle rear roofline meant a simple trade-off: more practicality, thanks to a bigger boot, but less headroom above the rear seats (the Elite, in contrast, could just about serve as a family car, albeit one that you'd want to thrash around the local track as soon as you'd got the kids safely off to school).

The lower half of the Eclat's fibreglass bodywork was identical to that of the Elite: as well as keeping weight down, those fibreglass bodies meant no rust, something that bedevilled many car marques in this era.

Lotus' halo car: the Esprit

Fun to drive, reasonably practical and frankly gorgeous though they were, the Elite Mk2 and Eclat were still conventional, front-engined cars. Things were shaken up, however, with the next model to leave the Lotus factory in 1976: a mid-engined, eye-poppingly handsome grand tourer, the Esprit.

Designed by Giorgietto Giugiaro (who also dreamed up the DeLorean, various Maseratis, and the first-generation VW Golf), the Esprit carried those wedge looks further even than the Elite – in fact, it was one of the first of what Giugiaro called his 'folded paper' designs, all straight lines, and angles.

The first iteration of the Esprit embodied Lotus' 'performance through light weight' mantra, weighing less than 1,000kg (2,205lb). With its supercar looks (if not quite supercar performance), the Esprit became an iconic sports car. If you're of a certain age and the name 'Lotus' conjures up images of beautiful, rakish sports cars, that's likely thanks to the Esprit. It was a hugely popular design that enjoyed increasingly potent generations until 2004 – though we prefer the more wedge-shaped 70s/80s models to the slightly curvier later iterations.

Sealing its perennial cool credentials, the Esprit even appeared in two James Bond movies – 1981's For Your Eyes Only and, famously, The Spy Who Loved Me from 1977, which featured a custom-built amphibious Esprit that was good for submarine duties.

The 1980s to the present day: collaborations… and an electric future

The following decade would bring perhaps Lotus' most famous joint project, working with Vauxhall to produce the extraordinary Lotus Carlton – a blisteringly quick version of a sensible large family saloon, and the fastest road-going Vauxhall car. With a top speed of 180mph, the Lotus Carlton could match or outstrip a contemporary Ferrari or Porsche – and that combination of insane speed and everyday looks (and affordability) made it a controversial car.

Present day Lotus

For one thing, the car was frequently stolen, while police complained that (unsurprisingly) they just couldn't catch it. A campaign to have the Lotus Carlton banned in the UK was launched – but failed. 

In fact, while the 1970s had been a heyday for Lotus in design terms at least, 1980 saw the form in trouble. Production had dropped from 1,200 cars per year to just 383, due to a range of factors including global recession, a drop in sales for the crucial US market, and a lack of development of that decade’s model range.

Help was at hand, however, in the form of a fruitful collaboration with Toyota. Lotus Engineering helped to develop the Mk2 Toyota Supra; in return, Lotus were able to launch the Excel, as a replacement for the Eclat, and featuring various Toyota components. The savings made here allowed Lotus to sell the Excel, when it arrived in showrooms in 1982, for over £1,000 less than the outgoing Eclat. Lotus Engineering, meanwhile, kept busy on various other collaborations – after the Sunbeam, Carlton and Supra, the company worked on the iconic Sinclair C5 and DeLorean.

1982 also saw the death of Lotus' visionary founder and designer, Colin Chapman, who'd steered the company from two friends mucking about in some old stables to a producer of thousands of successful racing and road cars – and a seven-times Formula One World Championship winner.

The latter years of Lotus' history saw some changes of ownership. By the mid-1980s, the company's new owners including David Wickins, the founder of British Car Auctions, and Sir Anthony Bamford of JCB realised that they needed more capital in order to bring new designs to production. So it was that, in January 1986, most of the company was sold to the US' General Motors.

There were two more changes of ownership during the 1990s: that decade, and its successor, saw a new and desirable generation of more driver-focused Lotus cars, such as the light, agile Elise mid-engined two-seater; its higher-powered sibling, the Exige; and the sinuous, sophisticated Evora from 2008.

The most recent development, in 2017, saw the Chinese multinational Geely acquiring a 51% controlling stake in Lotus, with the remaining 49% acquired by Malaysia's Etika Automotive.

And, bringing you right up to date, in January 2021 Geely announced that they would be working with Renault's performance division, Alpine, to develop a range of electric performance cars. Yes, Lotus will be producing electric cars only by 2028, increasing production numbers from around 1,500 a year to tens of thousands, with Geely and Etika Automotive providing around two billion pounds towards this enterprise.

The iconic Esprit, Eclat and Elite may now be names from a glorious past, but the future of Lotus is looking bright (and clean)…

Show your Lotus some love with classic car insurance

Are you the lucky owner of any of the iconic Lotus models we've remembered here? If so, speak to the specialists at Lancaster about our classic car insurance.

Benefits can include:

  • Historic rally cover
  • Static show cover
  • Limited mileage discounts
  • Choice of repairer
  • 24-hour claims helpline

Contact us today to find out more.

Policy benefits, features and discounts offered may very between insurance schemes or cover selected and are subject to underwriting criteria. Information contained within this article is accurate at the time of publishing but may be subject to change.

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The Lancaster Insurance and Practical Classics team undertook their epic Camper Round the Coast tour from 6-10 September.

Classic car auctions to visit this autumn

Buying at auction can be an excellent way to get hold of a classic car and, in this article, we'll run through a few of the fine-looking classic car auctions coming up throughout autumn 2021

10 breath-taking Alfa Romeos

Throughout their 111-year history, Italian carmakers Alfa Romeo have produced some astonishingly beautiful cars; some awesomely potent ones; and a select few that have managed to marry both elegance and power.

Morris Marina Owners Club – 50th anniversary charity run

The Morris Marina Owners Club are continuing their celebrations of the 50th anniversary of the launch of the Morris Marina in 1971 and the belated 40th anniversary of the launch of the Morris Ital in 1980.

Ford road trip with Kelsey Media

On Saturday 7 August our Own Brands Manager, Dave Bex and Paris Wakelen from our Car Club team joined Classics World’s Joe Miller for a road trip from Haynes International Motor Museum in Yeovil to Ford Fair 2021 at Silverstone.

05 October 2021


As No Time To Die, Bond Film No. 25, is due for release at the end of the month, here is a short tribute to five, often overlooked, 007 vehicles...


The year is 1971, and motorists reading The Illustrated London News learned some rather depressing news; “paralysed by strikes and other factories slowed down for lack of components.

04 October 2021


The year is 1981, and you are visiting the London Motor Fair. Older readers will recall how the NEC Motor Show was staged every two years, leaving scope for the Motor Trade Association to produce its own event at Earls Court.

September 2021

30 September 2021

The Story of the Renault Frégate

The Frégate is more likely seen in vintage brochures than on the road, but it was more than a footnote in Renault‘s history. Firstly, it was their first post-war large car, and secondly, its styling inspired the Dauphine.

29 September 2021

How to buy a Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow

Rolls-Royce started producing the Silver Shadow in four-door saloon form only, and it's easy to see why: this classic, simple, upright form suits the car's looks and branding so well.

Great gift ideas for car lovers

What do you get as a gift for the car lover in your life? Turns out that there are myriad options out there, be they driving experiences, fun toys, reading matter – or a whimsical artwork documenting their lifelong auto obsession.

A history of British Leyland

It's probably fair to say that the name 'British Leyland' conjures up mixed associations these days – pride in the postwar boom years of British motor manufacturing, to be sure, and in some iconic individual cars such as the Range Rover and Jaguar XJ-S.

28 September 2021

How to plan a campervan holiday to Denmark

Denmark is deservedly one of Europe’s top locations when it comes to campervan holidays and it’s not hard to see why, with a terrific range of activities and landscapes to explore.

24 September 2021


Sixty years ago, the British Motoring Corporation introduced to the public the latest versions of the Mini, the Morris Cooper and its badge-engineered twin, the Austin Seven. At first glance, they seemed to be a sporting version of the ‘Super Mini’ launched a few months earlier. However, keen drivers paid close attention to the race-tuned to 997cc 55 bhp engine with twin SU carburettors, close-ratio gearbox and front disc brakes.

23 September 2021


For many years, the Sinclair C5 has been regarded as a joke along with Sigue Sigue Sputnik records and The Roxy on ITV. It deserves a better fate, not least because it represented a new form of motoring, an electrically powered tricycle that anyone aged over 14 could drive on the road sans tax, licence or insurance.

22 September 2021

John Challis 16 August 1942 –19 September 2021

The late John Challis was always a welcome sight on the screen. His height and commanding presence on TV often saw him cast as police officers in Z Cars or villains, such as the venial Scorby in the Fourth Doctor adventure The Seeds of Doom.

20 September 2021

Where are the UK’s Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty?

Britain’s Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty make excellent destinations for a campervan trip: representing, as they do, some of our islands’ most treasured landscapes, they are liberally dotted with campsites to allow everyone to linger amongst the beauty for a while.

14 September 2021


The year is 1977, and this writer is poring over the latest Vauxhall brochure, a pastime almost as entertaining as The Goodies on BBC2. Suddenly, he comes across an FE even more glamorous than the VX2300 GLS.

13 September 2021

Fifty Years of The Persuaders!

Tony Curtis! Roger Moore! Aston Martins! Dinos! John Barry’s music! Terrible clothes! Worse dancing! Here are 20 facts about ITC’s grooviest TV series...

What is the Heart 200?

The Heart 200 is a new, 200-mile touring route around some of central Scotland's most dramatic, beautiful, and storied landscapes – centred around the cities of Perth and Stirling as well as The Trossachs system of glens, hills and lochs, and the rugged Perthshire Highlands.

A history of Lotus

Esprit. Eclat. Elite. For any petrolheads growing up in the 1970s and 1980s, these names held a certain aura – whether glimpsed among the latest pack of Top Trumps or streaking by on the motorway.

09 September 2021


60 years ago this month, Triumph unveiled a new sports car that left traditionalists aghast. It had a full-width body with vestigial tail fins, winding windows, and even fresh air vents on the facia.

08 September 2021


And to celebrate, here are twenty facts about the programme:

07 September 2021

What are kei cars?

Out of difficult circumstances can come brilliant things – and few things illustrate that better than the Japanese kei car.

What are the different types of classic campervan?

So, you've decided that a campervan could be the way forward for you and your family. Congratulations, first and foremost, on a great choice. Miles and miles, and days and nights of affordable, open-road motoring and camping await you.

06 September 2021

Meet the Owner – Craig Gorton and his Wolseley 24/80

At first sight, the Gorton Wolseley appears to be an exceptionally handsome example of the 15/60 – until you notice the badges. This is a 24/80 Mk 1, a six-cylinder product of BMC-Australia that was never available in the UK.

03 September 2021

Club of Month - The Deux Chevaux Club of Great Britain

The Deux Chevaux Club of Great Britain, or 2CVGB, is a friendly and knowledgeable group, of all ages and backgrounds, dedicated to preserving, restoring and enjoying Citroën A-Series models.

Ford v Vauxhall sales wars of the 1970s and 1980s

During the 1970s and 1980s, car market watchers had a fascinating time following the ongoing sales rivalries between two of Britain's biggest-selling car marques, Ford and Vauxhall.


Or, as the cold weather approaches, ten ways to enjoy sporting motoring in a certain amount of comfort...

What does classic car insurance cover?

We're often encouraging you to arrange some classic car insurance for your beloved vehicle here at Lancaster. But what does classic car insurance cover – and how does it differ from common or garden car insurance?

01 September 2021

How to prepare your car for a classic car show

If you’re thinking of attending your very first show as an exhibitor how can you prepare your car to get it looking its best? Whether you’re just flashing the car for fun or hoping to take home a trophy, here’s how to get it looking its best.

How will the E10 fuel change affect you?

From September 2021 a change is coming into effect which will see UK petrol stations around the country replacing E5 as the standard grade in place of renewable unleaded E10 fuel.

August 2021

26 August 2021


James is the Managing Director of Auto Windscreens and his Mini is a car that would have been unthinkable to the average economy-minded driver 41 years ago. No City would have featured an electric blue paint finish, alloy wheels and whitewall tyres, as this was the entry-level model.


Many readers will be sad to read of the passing of the American actor Stuart Damon. For much of the 60s and 70s, he was based in the UK and enlivened many an ITC programme.

19 August 2021

Only 26 Still On the Road: The Mitsubishi Starion

Classic & Sports Car recently announced the rather depressing news that just 26 Starions remain on the road in the UK. They were one of the most desirable sports coupes of their generation and possessed a distinctive style that set them apart.


70 years ago this month, Luton assured motorists that ‘Whatever point of view you judge from – performance, appearance, or anything else – you are going to agree that these new Vauxhalls are really something’.

17 August 2021


Or four seats, and the ability to take advantage of any moments of the August weather: Citroën Visa Décapotable - Citroën sold just 2,633 examples of the Décapotable, one reason being Heuliez’s bodywork inflated the price far beyond a standard 11RE.

16 August 2021

Best Yorkshire road trips

From the dramatic chalk cliffs of its long North Sea shoreline to the gentle, chocolate-box beauty of its mellow Dales, Yorkshire has one of the widest varieties of attractive landscapes of any British region.

Exploring Exmoor in your classic car

Straddling Somerset and Devon, the vast open spaces of Exmoor contain some of Britain's most dramatic and windswept landscapes, and some of its most beautiful driving routes.

All about SORN

As a classic car owner, and possibly a member of an owners' club, you will very likely have heard the term 'SORN' – and, perhaps, got little further than understanding that it's some sort of designation for cars – often classics – that are not currently on the road.

12 August 2021


For many years, the arrival of the ice cream van was as much a part of summer as awaiting O level results or unwatchable ITV Seaside Specials on ITV.


This month sees the 60th anniversary of a car that never professed to offer the excitement of a Jaguar E-Type or a Mini Cooper – yet was a vital aspect of British motoring of the late Macmillan era.


One night, when this writer was at low ebb, he found himself watching the long-forgotten 1987 Burt Reynolds/Liza Minnelli vehicle Rent-a-Cop

11 August 2021


The term ‘icon’ is one vastly overused in the media, from soap actors in with the dramatic power of Stingray, to popstars who have extended their range by learning a fourth chord. Similarly, in terms of British motor vehicles, only a select group may be genuinely described as ‘iconic’ - including the Transit Mk 1. Put simply, this was the Ford that redefined the light commercial.

10 August 2021


Chris’s Renault 12TS looks as though it should be gracing the Renault GB brochure for 1977. Those of us of a certain age will remember this splendid publication...


In April 1954, William Boddy of Motor Sport was so taken with the Citroën 2CV he wrote ‘Certainly from now on I shall look with scorn at cars of low power output which employ heavy lumps of cast-iron surrounded by water for engines’.


When Fiat unveiled the 126 in 1972, they faced two considerable challenges. Firstly, the Nuova 500 was an extremely hard act to follow – the car that tempted many a Vespa or Lambretta rider towards the joys of four-wheeled transport.

09 August 2021

Best classic company cars

It’s funny how the passage of time changes our view of certain vehicles. Executive models might have seemed worthy but dull back in their day – but a few decades on, many have attained classic status.

Our favourite dad cars from the 70s and 80s

If you’re ever nostalgic for the cars of your youth, you’re not alone. As a child, your dad’s car seemed enormous and all-powerful and some of the smells and textures stay with you forever.

15 reasons why we love the Vauxhall Chevette

Arriving on the scene in the middle of the 1970s (1st May 1975, to be precise), the Chevette heralded a new departure for Vauxhall, its clean, simple looks a world away from the more elaborate styling of the Victor and Cresta from the 1960s.

The history of Radford coachbuilders

We were very excited to learn, earlier this year, of the exciting relaunch of Radford – one of the most prestigious coachbuilders in British automotive history.

05 August 2021

A classic car owner’s guide to the new ULEZ zone

Anyone who's driven the streets of central London at any time over the past couple of years will have been aware of a comprehensive new measure to clamp down on air pollution in the city (and no, we're not talking about the already well-established Congestion Charge here).

04 August 2021


We recently featured John Langford’s 1964 Magnetite Mk 4 Farina, and today, we pay tribute to Alex’s 1966 example.


The 1990s are now looking not so much remote as impossibly distant. As the popular phrase goes, when did you last see a Rover 600, a first-generation Ford Mondeo, or indeed a first-generation Volvo C70?

02 August 2021

Camper Round the Coast – vote now for your favourite beach!

We’ve teamed up with our friends at Practical Classics magazine to create a very special journey – a whistle-stop fundraising tour of Britain’s finest beaches in a VW Campervan. And we need your help.

July 2021

30 July 2021

The best cars with straight-six engines

The Jaguar E-Type, the BMW M5, the 'James Bond' Aston Martin DB5 and that gullwing-door Mercedes – some iconic cars, down the decades, have sported straight-six engines.

The campervan owner's guide to Henley Royal Regatta

There are many major fixtures in the British sporting calendar but one of our favourites is the Henley Royal Regatta.

Our favourite European Car of the Year winners

It was back in 1964 that a group of enterprising motoring magazines from across Europe first got together and decided to vote on the best new car to have emerged across the continent that year.

29 July 2021

The best classic car owners' clubs to join this year - Part 3

You probably know this by now, but we are big fans of classic car clubs here at Lancaster. We believe that, for all owners of classics, joining a car club is an invaluable first step.

23 July 2021

Green card scheme for EU country car visits scrapped

Good news for anyone considering a continental classic car tour this summer, after it was announced that millions of people will no longer need an insurance ‘green card’ before taking their car to EU countries.

22 July 2021

The history of the Highway Code

Which book is ever-present on the best-seller lists – yet can also claim to have saved thousands of lives?

Club of the month - The Green Lane Association

Formed in 1995, the Green Lane Association (GLASS) is the National User Group for those who enjoy using the Country’s network of ancient unsurfaced public roads and vehicular rights of way.

20 July 2021

A beginner's guide to hillclimbing and sprints

You may be the proud owner of a classic motor with a sporty bent – an MGB GT, say, or an early Mazda MX-5, or a Mk2 Golf GTI. And perhaps you've wondered idly, from time to time, what it would be like to enter your classic into the odd motorsport event.

16 July 2021

Best kayaking locations in the UK

In this article we’ll explore a little bit more about this amazing activity – the best places to do it, how to get a licence if you need one and some top tips to keep you safe while you’re out on the water.

13 July 2021


In 1973, a new Hunter GLS was somewhat of a Q-Car – even if the owner specified the ‘Limelight’ paint finish.

Meet the Owner – Simon Frith and his Datsun Skyline 240K GT

Owners of once-familiar 1970s saloons are very familiar with the opening line ‘my dad/mum/grandfather/uncle/headmistress/postman had one of those’.

12 July 2021

The Remarkable Panhard PL17

Experiencing a Panhard PL17 was an experience on a par with entering the National Motor Museum for the first time or encountering the Genevieve Darracq in the metal – something never to be forgotten.

The Škoda S110R – A Celebration

In the late 1970s, many a young “Ton-Up” driver in their customised Ford Anglia 105E (a la The Young Ones) was amazed to be overtaken by a rear-engine coupe.

08 July 2021

Meet the Owner – Ian Evans and his Zündapp Janus

A 1958 Zündapp is not the ideal vehicle for motorists who wish to maintain a low profile. Whenever Ian Evans goes for a spin, the reaction of other road users, along with many pedestrians, is ‘what on earth is that?’

07 July 2021

A history of the Dakar Rally

Strap yourselves in and check the GPS, as we take a white-knuckle ride through the colourful history of the world’s most demanding endurance rally

Ten of the best military museums in the UK

Did you know that we insure lots of old military vehicles here at Lancaster as well as classic cars? From old military Land Rovers to full-on tanks, we’ve got you covered!

06 July 2021


Not long ago, we profiled the Ford Probe. So today let’s celebrate the collection of Malcolm Oyston who owns no fewer than six UK-market cars.

Quick guide to classic wheels

When it comes to your classic car, every detail matters. That’s why, if you decide you want to change the wheels, it’s a big decision.

The best classic car owners’ clubs to join this year (Part 2)

Here at Lancaster, we have been supporting car clubs for the last three decades. We love the camaraderie between owners, meeting lifelong friends and sharing vital tips and knowledge about the vehicles we love the most.

Classic cars made in Coventry

To celebrate Coventry's year as UK City of Culture 2021, we decided to look into the city's illustrious motor manufacturing history.

A history of Morgan

From their factory on the edge of the Malvern Hills, British car markers Morgan have been at the leading edge of sports and race car manufacture for over a century.

05 July 2021

The UK’s best picnic spots for campervans in 2021

Now is the time to start getting out and enjoying the marvels of the UK countryside in your campervan. Pack up the cool box and picnic rug, check the tyre pressures, make sure you're equipped with some decent campervan insurance because it’s time to hit the open road.

Common risks for campervan drivers you didn’t suspect

You’ll be familiar with the common risks associated with life on the road – drink driving, other road users, adverse weather conditions, driving behaviour – and even a few hazards linked specifically to campervans, such as the different dimensions and turning circles.

10 restoration projects to tackle in 2021

Restoring a classic car can be a hugely rewarding process. This is work that requires real concentration and dedication, and will get you deep inside the working parts of your chosen vehicle.

Future classics from the 2000s

You might think it's a little too soon to start earmarking future classics from the 2000s, a decade that seems not long gone. But we’re always thinking about the next great classics here at Lancaster and protecting them for the future.

June 2021

29 June 2021

L J K Setright – A Celebration

When the world was young and the Ford Fiesta 1300S Mk 1 was causing a minor sensation in outer suburbia; this writer was a devotee of Car magazine.

How to keep mice and rats out of your classic car

If you find you’ve got a mini passenger in your Mini Cooper, what action can you take? We’ve put together our top tips for ridding your Riley of rodents – and prevent them from sneaking back.

23 June 2021


The Atlas is the sort of vehicle mainly glimpsed in the backgrounds of 1960s British films rather than on the road. The Standard light commercial was a rather appealing machine in its heyday, but it never seemed to find a market niche despite its virtues.

At last…home insurance that’s built for the classic car enthusiast

At Lancaster Insurance, we understand that while your classic is your pride and joy, home is where the heart is.

18 June 2021

Classic car touring holidays

In this article, we’ll find out all the details – what you can get up to, where you can go, and some examples of companies running great classic car touring holidays that you can get involved in.

17 June 2021


Fifty years ago, Lancia unveiled its last independently designed car. Fiat acquired the famous concern in October 1969 and for many enthusiasts the 2000 Berlina marked the end of an era. It was also one of the most delightful sports saloons of the 1970s.

16 June 2021


Today marks the 60 birthday of not just one of Renault’s most important models but one of the most remarkable cars in motoring history.

Club of the Month – Gay Classic Car Group

June is Pride Month so what better way to mark the wholesale celebration of Britain’s LGBTQ community, than by having Gay Classic Car Group (GCCG) as our Club of the Month?

15 June 2021


After recently succumbing to the lure of the ‘Landcrab’, Cameron Burns bought himself an 1800 Mk 3. His Morris was fitted with several decadent extras: reclining front seats, hazard warning lights, an alternator and a heated rear screen.

14 June 2021

Best and worst classic car names

When it comes to having a favourite classic car, you might look for the whole package. Not only can that mean the drivability, the style, the shape or the character, but also the feelings of nostalgia it may evoke in you.

What were the best coupes from the 1990s?

The 1990s were a thrilling time for motor enthusiasts. Racing was graced by legends such as F1’s Michael Schumacher and Rallying’s Colin McRae, while car manufacturers pushed boundaries with exciting and innovative designs.

The history of Morris Motors

If you stop to think about truly iconic British vehicles, or indeed companies, it won’t be long before the name Morris pops up. Morris Motors was one of the true giants of 20th Century Britain, operating through both world wars and creating a range of successful, iconic vehicles.

The MG Midget – A Celebration

When MG introduced “The new Midget” in June of 1961, some Abingdon traditionalists were decidedly unhappy. A Mr. R. Gowring ranted in a letter to Motor Sport:

Our favourite Reliant cars

The 20th Century in the UK was full of motoring success stories and many have endured to today (think Rolls Royce, which started in 1904 and Vauxhall from 1903. However, for every 20th Century brand that is still active, there are about a hundred who are now defunct.

20 iconic cars from history

Classic cars become iconic for several reasons. They can symbolise bygone eras or represent strides forward for the car industry of their day. Meanwhile, they can achieve fame for their performances on the big screen or the world’s toughest racetracks.

11 June 2021

Classic road trip gadgets and accessories

So you’ve got your dream classic car but have you got all the right accessories and gadgets to go with it?

A classic car owner’s guide to potholes

Classic car owners know there’s no feeling quite like getting your dream set of wheels, keeping it in great nick, and taking it out on the road.


The 1950s so often appear to be another world – the National Anthem played at the end of cinema bills, newsagents selling Woodbines and The Daily Herald…and vehicles aimed exclusively at the female driver.

10 June 2021


The Land Rover was used by the nation’s constabularies almost from the outset of production in 1948. They might have been seen patrolling the Mersey Tunnel, rural beats or major highways.

09 June 2021


Some aspects of 1990s life now appear impossibly distant – Eurotrash on Channel 4, short-lived BBC soap Eldorado and the Ford Probe.

07 June 2021

Tips for driving a campervan at night

Driving a campervan at night brings all kinds of different challenges and risks. It’s important that you’re tuned in to what they are and have a strategy for dealing with them so you can minimise the chance of an unwelcome – and potentially serious – incident on the road.

Which classic cars do Top Gear presenters own?

The Top Gear line up has changed a few times in recent years, but – for now at least – the BBC have settled on the presenting trio of Paddy McGuinness, Andrew "Freddie" Flintoff and Chris Harris.

A quick guide to Sir Stirling Moss

His passing in April 2020, aged 90, was an emotional day for fans of motor racing. One of the true legends of the sport, a daring driver known best for his years on racing’s greatest stage – Formula One.


One of the more pleasing developments of the past 20 years is the gradual retirement of the “British Leyland Joke”. They are occasionally revived in the form of (very) tired piano references, but BL products are now mainly assessed on their merits.


This year marks the 40th anniversary of one of the most important cars to bear the Triumph badge. When the Acclaim made its bow on the 7th October 1981, it pioneered Japanese involvement in the British motor industry.

04 June 2021

The best supercars of the 1980s

Depending on who you speak to, the 1980s, with its big hair, big shoulder pads and even bigger personalities, was either a decade that should be fondly remembered or forgotten altogether. The supercars from this era were equally ‘bold and brash’, with their large rear-wings and over-sized vents – and we love them for it.

Murray Walker - A life in motorsport

The death of legendary Formula 1 commentator Murray Walker, aged 97, led to an outpouring of tributes, underlining how much of an admired figure he was in the world of motorsport.

01 June 2021


Back in 1969, a new Hillman GT was the perfect car for “String-Back-Driving-Gloves Man”. It had it all: the rev counter mounted atop the dashboard, the high-backed front seats and, of course, the ‘Go-Faster’ stripes. At £962, it was also £24 cheaper than a four-door Ford Cortina GT, while there was more than enough room in the glove box for a bottle of Hai Karate.

May 2021

28 May 2021

Best driving roads in the UK

As a classic car owner, you want to be able to drive your vintage motor on some of the best roads that the British Isles has to offer. It’s easy to forget that we’re blessed with some incredible landscapes here in the UK – it’s just a case of knowing where to find them.

Classic cars from British TV comedies

Over the decades, vintage motors have played iconic roles in many great British TV comedies. Just think: how would Del Boy have got up to his wheeler-dealer tricks without his three-wheeler?

Our favourite Ferraris

Every car enthusiast has their favourite Ferrari. Some – like us – can’t narrow it down to just one and have a whole list of Ferraris that hold a special place in their hearts.


This week marks the sixth anniversary of a television channel that is a source of delight to classic machinery and cinema fans alike. After all, who needs the likes of Celebrity Supermarket Warehouse Shift Worker and Help – Even My Agent Has Forgotten My Name?

24 May 2021

Exploring Norfolk and the Broads by campervan

Whether you’re planning a solo staycation, a trip with your partner or a family holiday, Norfolk and the Norfolk Broads is the place to head. In this article we’ll cover what to see, where to stay and learn a little bit more about this fascinating area of the country.

21 May 2021

The UK’s best racetracks

in the UK, we’re lucky enough to have some of the world’s best racing on our doorstep, with countless amazing circuits hosting races throughout each year.

19 May 2021

Classic cars from Russia and the Soviet Union

From 1924 to 1971, the USSR only manufactured one million vehicles. But it still managed to produce some memorable cars, albeit often heavily influenced by Western manufacturers. In this article, we’re going to take a look at the best of them.

18 May 2021


The year is 1982. Adam Ant’s solo record Goody Two Shoes is topping the charts, and the tabloid press is ranting how a forthcoming BBC programme called The Young Ones will cause the end of civilisation. Meanwhile, a holiday in Weymouth awaits, and your home from home is a Morris Marina 575 Suntor. James Ebden’s rather stunning example is a reminder of this camper’ popularity in the ‘70s and ‘80s.


As Goodwood has scheduled the Revival for the 17th to 19th of September, there is no better time to celebrate its famous “Pace Car”. Just as notable, Simon Dwyer’s 1959 MGA 1600 Mk 1 is one of the few surviving cars from Lancashire Constabulary’s traffic fleet.

17 May 2021


Sixty years ago, Dagenham unveiled a new model that could not be mistaken for any other car. The Consul Classic was the epitome of scaled-down Americana, from its quad headlamps to its tail fins and reverse-angle rear screen. Any driver who affected a Bob Monkhouse-style mid-Atlantic patois instantly craved the “long low look” and motorway pace of “the new look of British motoring”.

The Transport Café – A Celebration

While some forms of roadside building have gone the way of AA and RAC telephone boxes, it is heartening to come across a surviving transport café. The Ace, near Wembley, which opened in 1938, is possibly the best known. Another name that will be familiar to many readers is Kate’s Cabin on the A1.

14 May 2021

How to spot a classic car scam online

How can you ensure that your dream Dodge is not a dodgy deal? And if you’re selling, how can you be confident that your buyers – and their payments – are real?

MG Owners’ Club 2021 (sponsored by Lancaster Insurance) Race Meeting at Mallory Park, 5th May

The first race meeting of The MG Owners’ Club 2021 season – at Mallory Park Racing Circuit – was boosted by the debuts of several drivers, writes Jim Baynam. The race had its usual quotient of high-octane thrills and was the inaugural such event for Carl Bate (MGBGT), Anthony Bate (Maestro), Mathieu Dore (MGBGT), Jack Woodcock (ZR) and Tim Grigsby (TF).

13 May 2021

Brief history of Land Rover

Right up there with the plucky vim and vigour of the original Mini and the elegant power of the Jaguar E-Type, the rough and tough all-terrain Land Rover is synonymous with Great Britain.

10 fascinating facts about DeLorean

The DeLorean DMC-12 is synonymous with the Back to the Future series, of course. But there’s much more to this classic car than a movie appearance or three.

11 May 2021

Club of the month - MG Octagon Car Club

With more than 2,000 members in the UK and across the world, our Club of the Month is the MG Octagon Car Club.

07 May 2021


On the 27th of April, the Morris Marina celebrated its 50th birthday, and one of many enthusiasts is Danny Hopkins, the editor of Practical Classics Magazine:

Classic four-seater convertibles

There’s a lot to be said for owning a four-seater classic convertible, as opposed to a two-seater. Above all else, they offer an element of practicality – so if you want to go away for the weekend, there’s room for luggage as well as three passengers.

Best classic car clubs for American cars

When it comes to car design, the Americans clearly believe in excess. While it’s not to everyone’s tastes, you can’t deny it’s led to some incredible machines over the years. The classic car world would undoubtedly be a more boring place without the likes of the Ford Mustang, the Chevrolet Camaro and the Dodge Challenger roaring up to classic car shows around the country.

60th anniversary of the E-Type Jaguar

The Jaguar E-Type is one of the most famous cars of all time. Described as a “combination of beauty, high performance, and competitive pricing”, it sits high on pretty much every classic car enthusiast’s most wanted list (unfortunately, for most people, it remains there forever). Having now turned 60, the E-Type’s appeal and good looks show no signs of fading.

05 May 2021


On the 25th April 1961, Citroën unveiled its latest model and issued a warning to all motorists: “If you believe that the characteristics of a car - performance, comfort, safety - necessarily on the number of horsepower, the amount of superfluous chrome trim or high cylinder capacity and corresponding fixed costs are to be measured, then do not concern yourself further with the Ami 6!”


Both during its lifetime and after, the British-market Metropolitan 1500 received some very mixed reviews. The Motor of 3rd April 1957 noted in a very imperious fashion that the reader would be able to “…place his own emphasis on its traits according to his own tastes and circumstances…”. In other words – if you buy this car, you run the risk of being regarded as a vulgarian and quite possibly a cad into the bargain.

The MG Midget – A Celebration

When MG introduced ‘the new Midget’ in June 1961, some Abingdon traditionalists were decidedly unhappy. A Mr. R. Gowring ranted in a letter to Motor Sport: “I am one of numerous MG Midget owners who regard the ‘New Midget’ with an air of disdain. I say the ‘New Midget.’ Mr. Courtenay Edwards, the motoring correspondent of the Sunday Telegraph, calls it “the Austin Healey Sprite wearing a false moustache and dark glasses,” which I feel is a much better description.”

April 2021

28 April 2021

How to get back behind the wheel after a break

Driving is just like riding a bike; you never forget how, but after a bit of a break, you may be a little rusty. However, you don’t want that rustiness to lead to an unwelcome incident out on the road, which could cost you dearly.

What is the Lakeland Motor Museum?

For many fans of classic cars, planning a trip to the Lakeland Motor Museum is a dream come true! This unique place is truly devoted to all things motoring. From getting up close to classic vintage cars and motorbikes to immersing yourself in some of the greatest moments in UK motoring history, there’s really no place quite like it.

Our favourite classic Vauxhalls

Vauxhall is not often spoken about as a brand that builds great cars. But as the UK’s oldest surviving car brand, with models rolling off its production line as early as 1903, its motors really stand the test of time.

27 April 2021

4x4 Insurance Update

With lock down restrictions on travel being gradually eased within the four nations, albeit it at differing rates, we’re receiving queries regarding 4x4 insurance and what is covered as people look ahead to getting back on the open road. Here Andrew Evanson, Senior Operations Manager at Lancaster Insurance, talks about what is covered with our 4x4 policies.

21 April 2021

All about the Nürburgring

The Nürburgring is a bucket-list destination for just about every petrolhead on the planet. It attracts some two million visitors each year and is, without doubt, one of the premier automotive attractions in the world.

8 fast facts about the VW Beetle

The VW Beetle has claims to be one of the best cars to ever go into production. Designed to be the ‘people’s car’, its appeal spanned cultures and generations, going on to become one of the best-selling cars of all time. It remained in production for more than 80 years, with Volkswagen eventually calling time in 2019.

16 April 2021

Best UK distilleries to visit by campervan

Did you know that the UK boasts more than 300 distilleries, producing gin, vodka and whisky? A trip to one of these can make for a very nice day out – you just need to find somewhere safe to leave the campervan so you can properly enjoy your tipple!


It is hard to believe that the Vauxhall Cavalier Mk. II is fast approaching its 40th birthday, and even more difficult to appreciate how rare they now are. There are just two examples of the SR on the road and Martin Hughes’ 1982 four-door is believed to be the last Jamaica Yellow model in the UK.


Any Morris Oxford Series VI is a car worthy of great respect – especially this 1969 example owned by Costas Georgopoulos. His father acquired it new, and the Farina served the family and the Peloponnese seaport town Nafplio as a taxi for many years.

THE FIAT 127 AT 50

To celebrate 50 years of the 127 – 27 facts about this ground-breaking Fiat:


The Morris Marina will celebrate its 50th birthday later this month, and we plan to feature an exceptional example on the actual date. For now, here are twenty fascinating facts about a much-misunderstood car:

15 April 2021


According to How Many Are Left?, just 15 examples of the Renault 20 TX Automatic remain on the road in the UK. Forty years ago, they were regarded as desirable transport – well-appointed, versatile, extremely comfortable and with a certain degree of panache. More importantly, this example, co-owned by Chris Salter and Reg Duffett, was once the daily driver of a great friend to the classic community.


50 years ago, Fiat unveiled one of their most beautiful cars: the 10 Coupe. It was not just a belated heir to the 2300S and the Lance Flaminia Coupe but a car fit to rival the BMW 3.0CS and the Mercedes-Benz 280CE. Famous owners included (but of course) Sophia Loren and Marcello Mastroianni.


In 1956, the French travel firm Groupe Cityrama commissioned the famed coachbuilder Currus to build transport suitable for a new generation of tourists.


In 1954, the motorist in search of a small estate-car had four options. The recently launched Morris Minor Traveller looked most appealing, while the new Hillman Husky was essentially a modified Commer Cob van.


The year is 1961 and, somewhere in Hampshire, a family is en route to their summer holiday near Swanage. Dad is ranting about those Ton-up boys, Mum dreams of Laurence Harvey, their daughter reads about John Leyton in Mirabelle magazine, while son plots his way to owning a Corgi model of the Citroën DS19.

Best car shows of 2021

For classic car owners and enthusiasts, nothing beats the excitement of a classic car show. This is especially true in the UK, which is home to a glittering array of world-leading classic car events. These shows provide the opportunity to see some of the best and rarest vehicles in the world up close, maybe even purchasing one of your own.

12 of the best car movies of all time

Cars make movies. Movies make cars. The two go together as well as just about anything. We can’t imagine a time that car movies go out of fashion. At lease, we hope not.

14 April 2021

Best VW owners clubs in the UK

Volkswagen has enjoyed the best of times of late. The German manufacturer has famously been involved in an emissions scandal which dates back to 2008 has so far cost the company €30bn (£25bn) – and it’s rising. But VW still has a strong fanbase – especially among classic car owners.

Best Instagram accounts for classic car enthusiasts

Did you know that more than 30 million people in the UK are now using Instagram, the photo and video sharing social networking service? And numbers are growing year on year. Classic car enthusiasts are not wasting the opportunity to utilise the platform either, posting thousands of pictures of rare and classic vehicles for us all to enjoy.

13 April 2021

How to take perfect pictures of your classic car

We’ve put together this handy guide to some of the basics you need to understand in order to take the perfect picture of your classic. Making your car stand out from the crowd has never been easier.


Of all the cars celebrating their 40th birthday in 2021, the Samba is one of the rarest, with just 19 remaining in use. They were the last new car to bear the Talbot badge - and one that represented a fresh direction for the brand.

The Reliant Scimitar GTC – A Celebration

Looking at the Scimitar GTC, it is hard to believe that it debuted in the same year as the Audi Quattro, the Austin Mini Metro and the Ford Escort Mk3. This is not to imply that the Reliant looked at all dated, for it was a true Grand Tourer; handsome, purposeful and always looking ready for a dash along the A27 to Goodwood.

Five special edition Ford Escort Mk2s

In 1979, there would have been few keen motorists unaware that Ford was planning a radical new third-generation Escort – a front-wheel-drive hatchback no less. In the meantime, there was a spate of Limited Edition Mk2s.

The Triumph 2.5 P.I. Mk1 – A Celebration

The 2000 made its bow at the 1963 London Motor Show and by the mid-1960s Canley was already considering a more powerful version. One option was enhancing the 1,998cc-engine to create the ‘2000TS’.

12 April 2021

Multi-vehicle FAQ

At Lancaster Insurance, we’re seeing a greater number of enthusiasts owning more than one vehicle. To help take away the stress of multiple renewal dates and cluttered paperwork, below is more information on our multi-vehicle policies and how they may help you!

09 April 2021

10 fast facts about the Mini

As a Mini enthusiast, you might think you know all there is to know about the British’s people’s car. But, put your knowledge to the test with these ten fast facts about this brilliant British icon.

Cars driven by celebrities before they were famous

Being classic car enthusiasts, we tend to judge celebrities by the cars that they drive. So, the likes of Chris Evans and Rowan Atkinson, who are well known for their love of classic cars, are top of our list (we don’t actually have a list of our favourite celebrities, of course).

8 of the best mid-engine classics

There’s nothing middle of the road about a mid-engine motor. Many high-end sports cars have their engines in front of the rear axle, making for a vehicle that’s supremely easy to handle even at top speed.

The most impressive car collections in the world

If you had all the money in the world and wanted to put together the classic car collection of your dreams, which vehicles would you choose? Every classic car lover has a dream team they would build if they become filthy rich. How do real-life millionaire car lovers spend their cash?


Of all the many motor-cars associated with the late HRH The Duke of Edinburgh, perhaps the most famous is his Lagonda 3-Litre Drophead. It was a vehicle renowned for its performance, comfort, and, most notably, an innate sense of gravitas in its heyday.

08 April 2021

Club of the month - Land Rover Series 3, 90 &110 Owners Club

Celebrating its’ 30th birthday in July this year, the Club started as a national enthusiast club for the Series 3 and later encompassed coil sprung 90 and 110 vehicles due to popular demand. Today, the Club caters for all models and members don’t necessarily have to own or drive a Landy to join, just have an interest in them!

Best coastal classic car drives in the UK

From the White Cliffs of Dover to the Giant’s Causeway, British coastlines are both steeped in history and endlessly beautiful. It’s a dream for owners of a classic car who live for those escapes, getting behind the wheel and setting off to make unforgettable memories.

History of car safety features

When you get behind the wheel of a modern car, you’re entering a space that has been shaped by generations of automotive engineers. You can almost date a vehicle by the safety features that are built in – a fascinating area for classic car lovers.


For a car that was not uncommon on British roads during the 1980s, the 18 seems to have been largely forgotten. It deserves to be better remembered for it was a Renault of many good qualities and a more than viable alternative to a Vauxhall Cavalier or the Ford Sierra.

5 top campervan owners clubs in the UK

Owning a campervan is a real joy. It gives you the freedom to go wherever you like, whenever you like and take all your home comforts with you. It allows you to be more active, spend time in the great outdoors, and become part of a large, friendly community. What more could you ask for?

07 April 2021


One of the many stars of the 1959 London Motor Show was found on Stand 145. Here was a coupe primed to compete with the Aston Martin DB4 and the Jensen 541R, one built by ‘dedicated craftsmen who jealously guard the hand-made reputation that has made AC the choice of the discerning motorist during the past 50 years’.


As the BMC/BLMC ADO16 was the UK’s best-selling car for many years, it is sometimes easy to overlook their presence in world markets. Here are seven of the most intriguing overseas interpretations:

01 April 2021

7 fast facts about the Lotus Elise

For a time, you couldn’t go for a drive without seeing a Lotus Elise – never a bad thing. But they are a much rarer sight these days, even though they’re still in production.

5 sympathetic classic car modifications

If you want to add a modern part onto your classic car as part of the restoration project – but retain the essence of your historic vehicle – then you need to be subtle with any modifications that you make.

March 2021

29 March 2021

A brief history of Aston Martin

A brand synonymous with style and class, Aston Martin has produced some of the most luxurious and sophisticated sports cars ever to grace our roads.

All about the Honda NSX

Stunning the motoring world when it debuted over 30 years ago, the iconic Honda NSX rivalled anything the European car makers had to offer at the time. But what started out as an experiment by the Honda team, turned out to be the making of a Japanese automotive legend.

20 fascinating facts about the Fiat 500

Oozing Italian Dolce Vita charm, the diminutive Fiat 500 was a big hit throughout Europe when it first launched in 1957. And that popularity has endured until the present today.

10 classic automatics

For a time, you couldn’t go for a drive without seeing a Lotus Elise – never a bad thing.


‘I absolutely love this particular car which took me over 20 years to secure, so it’s going nowhere’. Ian’s 1975 Austin Allegro 1300 Super is certainly an eye-catching machine, not least the paint finish – ‘“Citron Yellow”; a rare survivor and a colour that is seen on MGs of the same period and the Jubilee Marinas’.

26 March 2021


Yesterday Ford announced the end to production in 2022 of the Mondeo - bringing to end a nearly thirty-year tradition. It is quite bizarre to think that little over 11 years separates the launch of the first models from the last of the Cortinas, and some readers will remember how in 1982, the debut of the Sierra caused shock-waves amongst Ford traditionalists. Indeed, some had not yet recovered when they heard rumours of an FWD replacement.

24 March 2021

What to do with your classic when you die

As classic car owners, we’re really just temporary custodians of vehicles that have seen many previous owners and will hopefully see many more in the future. So, what are the options for finding a new home for your precious classic car after your death?


For many years the Austin Allegro was the subject of myth, folklore, received wisdom and downright abuse. Fortunately, the once-familiar “British Leyland Jokes” appear to have largely vanished, and any surviving model is now an object of fascination.

23 March 2021

How to write a classic car advert

If you’ve decided it’s time to sell your classic car, you’ll likely want two things: the best possible price for your vehicle and a quick sale.

6 of the best classics from the 1950s

The 1950s were a good time to be alive. The Second World War had ended and people were optimistic about the future.

The royal family and their classic cars

It’s no secret that the world is obsessed with the British royal family. We can’t get enough of talking about what they do, what they wear and where they go.

How to plan a campervan trip to the South of France

If you’re looking for the perfect country for campervan travel, you’ll be hard-pressed to find one better than France. From the stunning countryside to the vibrant cities, there are plenty of places to explore. Plus, with a host of campervan and motorhome campsites, Aires and stopovers to choose from, you can plan your route (and your budget) with ease.

How to jump start a classic car

Classic cars aren’t always reliable starters, as any experienced owner will know. In fact, sometimes you can find that a car will start one day without any problem and then a week later you turn the key and… nothing. However, before you reach for the jump leads, as you would do on a more modern car, just hold on – or you could potentially have a fire on your hands.

22 March 2021


We recently featured Lucy Worsley’s Bulgarian-built Maestros, but Patrick owns an even rarer version. His 1986 Moonraker Blue HLS is believed to be the only example on the road in the UK and ‘This car has only done 19,000 miles and has been sat in a garage for three years’.

18 March 2021

Who is the next generation of classic car owners?

The pastime of collecting classic cars shows no signs of disappearing – however, the market is undergoing a seismic shift, with baby boomers making way for the new generation.

What are the Pride of Ownership competitions at the NEC Classic Motor Show?

When you own a classic car, it’s natural to want to show people how fabulous it is. One way of doing that is by entering it into a classic car show or competition, such as the Pride of Ownership awards.

17 March 2021

What’s the difference between original, restored and resto-mod?

If you’re a classic car owner, it’s up to you what you do with your vehicle.

Lancaster Insurance expands cover for prestige vehicles

Lancaster Insurance has today announced a new partnership with Chubb to enhance its high value offering. Understanding that a standard policy may not always provide the right cover, the new scheme will give owners the confidence to truly enjoy their prestige vehicle with a range of bespoke benefits on offer.

Fast facts about the Mazda MX-5

The mighty Mazda MX-5 is one of the most popular classics we insure here at Lancaster Insurance. It doesn’t come as a great surprise. Born in 1989, it has gone on to become one of the most famous roadsters of all time, with early models able to be picked up for peanuts (just watch out for that rust!).

16 March 2021


It is rather dispiriting to read how few examples of the BX survive in the UK, and Philip Greaves’ 1984 16TRS is one of the earliest on the road. His first experience of this very desirable Citroën was travelling in the model once owned by his mother – ‘Some of my earliest memories were in that car and of its unique dashboard - a glowing spinning drum speedo with LED rev bar and lots of switches’.

Classic cars that turn 50 in 2021

From the invention of the microprocessor and the opening of Disney World to decimalisation in the UK, 1971 was a vintage year for a whole host of reasons. And many of these technological and cultural changes were also mirrored in the world of car design and production. Many car makers dropped the chrome radiator grills and wood and leather interiors of the 1960s in favour of American coke-bottle styling and black plastic.

10 of the best classic vans and pick-ups

For a vehicle with stories to tell, you can’t beat the humble van. Light commercial vehicles and pick-ups are not just part of motoring history – they give insights into the bygone world of work, too.

Driving your motorhome or campervan in Europe after Brexit

With European travel due to open up once again in 2021, it’s time to start looking ahead and preparing for your next motorhome adventure. Part of that preparation will be to familiarise yourself with the changes that have been imposed on travel now that the UK has left the European Union.

15 March 2021


‘The older generation usually knows of the model but due to its rarity not many have seen one. I’ve been asked if it’s a Jaguar or a kit car’. The Jowett Jupiter, owned by Anthony Jackson, is a very exclusive vehicle and one of the most ambitious products of the post-war British motor industry.

12 March 2021


Picture the scene – a semi-detached villa somewhere in East Cheam on Wednesday 15th March 1961. You are glancing at The Daily Herald over breakfast with Housewives’ Choice playing on the BBC Light Programme in the background – and then you come to the motoring page. ‘0-100 mph in 15secs - that’s the new Jag’ reads the headline while, even more incredibly, the E-Type was capable of 150 mph.


The British Motor Corporation promised that the Austin A55 Cambridge possessed ‘an unmistakable air of authority’, and 790 XUH really does look imposing. His custodian Ms. Rachel Smith.

11 March 2021


The A90 Atlantic was one of the undoubted stars of the 1948 London Motor Show. For many visitors to Earls Court, a drophead with a “Jewelescent” paint finish seemed wholly removed from the fog, the damp and queuing for their bacon ration. This was the car Austin intended to appeal to affluent drivers in California with its ‘sports car performance with saloon car comfort’.


Any FE-Series Ventora is now an unusual sight, but Gordon’s example is a car of special distinction. In May 1973, the advertisements stated, ‘Your Vauxhall dealer is offering a limited edition Ventora called the V.I.P. It’s black and it’s absolutely beautiful’. Mr. Morris came by his car in 1987 ‘as I was membership secretary for a while for the VX 4/90 Drivers’ Club’.

The history of the Ford Escort

Few models of car offer as much variety as the beloved Ford Escort. From small family saloons to hot hatches and rally cars, from panel vans to luxury models, the range has given us everything. Between the late 1960s and the new millennium, there have been six generations of this perennially popular car on Britain’s streets. In total, some 4.1 million models were sold in the UK, and it frequently topped the bestseller lists.

UK film locations to visit by campervan

If you’re a fan of British cinema, it’s well worth building a road trip around some filming locations. Not only will it help bring some of your favourite scenes to life, it’ll also give you an excuse to explore those parts of the UK that you have yet to see first-hand.

What kinds of automobilia can you collect?

If you’ve run out of room to collect classic cars, the next best thing is to build up a collection of old motoring memorabilia – known as automobilia – which can come in all shapes and sizes.

How to make money on a classic car

While talk of people making more money from buying and selling classic cars than property or gold might be a little over exaggerated, it’s true that you can turn a healthy profit from investing in a classic.

10 March 2021

The pros and cons of driving a classic car every day

Most owners choose not to drive their classic cars on a daily basis. In fact, the average historic vehicle is driven only 16 times a year, covering around 1,200 miles.

9 fast facts about the Lamborghini Miura

As far as most people are concerned – including ourselves – the Lamborghini Miura is one of the best cars ever designed.

Peugeot 205 GTi – a modern classic

Looking back on the 1980s, there were certainly some design disasters but also design triumphs in the world of car manufacture. With their bold, attractive looks and great performance, the hot hatchback has to be one of the high points!

09 March 2021


No, this is not a misprint, as the Morris badged version is one of the rarest and most desirable models to devotees of the Metro. Virtually any car-based light commercial of the 1980s has a very poor survival rate, but the early Metro van is probably now a more unusual sight than an MG 6R4. Not to mention offering considerably better fuel economy.

08 March 2021


Fifty years ago, a factory in County Durham produced the first examples of a quite remarkable new coupe. The Clan Crusader’s production run may have lasted for little more than two years, but it made a more significant impact than other cars might achieve in ten.


‘All New, all powerful’, exclaimed the adverts, and on paper, a new C appeared to be the perfect sports car for the go-ahead motorist. As early as 1964, Abingdon gave serious thought to a more powerful version of the B, while the Austin-Healey 3000 was not far from the end of its distinguished career.

04 March 2021

5 classic cars with a dark past

All cars are created with good intentions. However, somewhere along the way, some cars take on dark associations. Unfortunately, in some cases, they can’t shake them off afterwards and are forever tinged with the incident or ownership that formed that shadow.

The car’s the star – classic cars in films

A movie appearance can do wonders for a car. As well as making it a more desirable object, it can put some serious value on a vehicle.


With many popular cars, it is the entry-level versions that so often have the worst survival rate. Many owners treated the likes of a Cortina 1300 Mk. II “Series One” De Luxe Estate as a humble workhorse. Similarly, the De Luxe saloon’s common fate was becoming a sub-par replica of the GT, the 1600E or even the Lotus. This is just one reason why Andrew’s 1967 “Alpine Green” example is such a fascinating machine. Another is that it recently played a very important role for his family.

Meet The Owner - Theo Kyriacou and his Fiat 131 Mirafiori Sport

‘I’ve owned at least one Fiat 131s since I bought my first one, a 1600 Special in 1979, and at one point, I had three. My current metallic grey 131 Mirafiori Sport I bought in 2001 when I was told my previous silver 131 Sport was beyond economic restoration. “Everything can be fixed/repaired, but it’s not worth restoring this one! Buy another one” I was told’.


Some new cars manage to anticipate the future and make many of its rivals look archaic; the Citroën DS in 1959, the Mini in 1959, the Fiat 128 in 1969 and the Audi 100 C3 in 1982. And when Peugeot unveiled their latest small hatchback in February 1983, there was a sense that “The 1980s” really had commenced. Even after 38 years, Gérard Welter’s styling barely dates, and for an idea of the 205’s impact in the UK, picture a bright red GR amidst a sea of second-hand Ford Cortina Mk. Vs and Talbot Solaras.

03 March 2021

Classic cars that become MOT exempt in 2021

As well as being a lot of fun to drive and a potentially lucrative way to invest any spare cash, there are a host of other benefits to classic car ownership.


A few days ago, Simon took his Equipe 2-Litre Mk. II Convertible for its first drive out after about ten years of being off the road. It is the sort of car that virtually demands that its hood be lowered, even in February, and a genuinely individualistic machine – even if too few people recognise it as a Bond. Mr. Fixter remarks while ‘everyone seems to like it’; members of the public tend to mistake it for ‘an obscure Alvis, Bristol or Jensen’.


Fifty years ago, Luton unveiled ‘the kind of car that makes you impatient to be on your way’ – the new Firenza. Here was a coupe to rival the Ford Capri at home and score a major success in the company’s crucially important Canadian export market. As it transpired, the Vauxhall with ‘distinctive styling’ reached neither goal – despite its many strong-points.

02 March 2021

Classic Car Restoration: The Definitive Guide

Classic car restoration is not something that you should try to attempt without having some expert advice alongside you, guiding you along the way. We hope that this guide will be an indispensable source of information that gives you the confidence to make your classic car restoration project everything you want it to be.

A brief history of Triumph

As a popular first foray into classic car ownership, the Triumph cars of the 1960s and 1970s hold a special place in the hearts of many UK classic car enthusiasts.

01 March 2021

Club of the month

This month, the Mk1 Golf Owners Club take the accolade of Club of the Month! The club caters for owners and enthusiasts of the VW Mk1 Golf and exists to be a base for the preservation and restoration of the original Volkswagen Golf. Keeping with the times, the club has members with original swallowtails to heavily modified cabriolets.

Get your classic looking its best with our latest competition!

March brings with it the changing of the seasons, as we approach spring and hopefully warmer weather, and usually it signifies the start of the classic car season. Whilst we may have to wait a little longer to enjoy road trips in our classics, today we are launching our brand new competition which will hopefully bring a little cheer!


‘Photos don’t do her justice – she is a car of such presence’. Naturally, Howard’s White Elephant causes a sensation on virtually every journey, and even in his home village, people stop on the pavement and mouth ‘what is it?’. Such reactions are quite understandable, for that elegant coachwork has no TVR badges. And incredibly, just seventeen years ago, this unique piece of Blackpool Thunder was languishing in the ‘TVR Graveyard’.

February 2021

26 February 2021

The most popular classics we insure at Lancaster

We’ve insured thousands of classic cars in the 35+ years we’ve been in existence. Basically, you name it, we’ve insured it. Having built up a wealth of experience and knowledge within the industry in the last three decades, we are able to quote for virtually every type of classic car available.

Meet The Owner – Adrian Miller and his Vauxhall Viva HB SL90 Crayford Convertible

Last year we featured Adrian’s Viva De Luxe “Brabham” but, incredibly, this is not the rarest car in his collection. In March 1968, Crayford Engineering transformed five of the HB range into dropheads. Each was based on the SL90, finished in white and wore Cosmic Mk. I alloy wheels’. Luton officially approved the conversion, and they were distributed solely by the Leeds Vauxhall dealership Wallace Arnold.

What is the Federation of British Historic Vehicle Clubs FBHVC?

If it wasn’t for the Federation of British Historic Vehicle Clubs (FBHVC), many classic car owners wouldn’t be able to drive their pride and joy on British roads. The Federation was created to uphold the freedom to use historic vehicles on the road, representing the interests of classic car owners to officials, politicians, and legislators.

24 February 2021

Best classic car designers

As classic car enthusiasts, we are indebted to the many brilliant automotive designers who have given us our passion – without their unique vision, ideals and principles, we’d have nothing to get excited about. All cars would be one of the same, destined for the scrap heap at the end of their life, rather than carefully preserved as so many historic vehicles are today.

How to plan a classic Italian Job-style road trip

What comes to mind when you think of the classic British film, The Italian Job? Michael Caine – certainly. The Swinging Sixties – for sure. And classic cars. Lots and lots of classic cars!

23 February 2021

All about the Porsche 911

The classic Porsche 911 has been found to be the most valuable historic vehicle on the market with the models bringing in over £900 million to the UK economy. Research from the Historic Endurance Rallying Organisation and Endurance Rallying Association (HERO-ERA) calculates that the 23,029 models add up to an estimated valuation of £911 million. The Porsche 911 was miles out in front in the list, with the Jaguar E-Type claiming second place with an estimated worth of £371 million from 4,120 models.

22 February 2021

What’s the environmental impact of classic cars in the UK?

In this article, we set the record straight on what the new law will mean for classic car owners and help you keep up to date with the government’s long-term plans. But, first, it’s important to put it all into context by looking at the environmental impact of classic cars in the UK.


In the early 1980s, certain large cars were more frequently encountered in brochures and the automotive press than in the metal – the Talbot Tagora, the Renault 30 TX and the Gamma Berlina. All deserved far more commercial success, especially the Lancia - one of the most distinctive saloons of its generation.

19 February 2021


When Jaguar unveiled the E-Type at the Geneva Motor Show in 1961, several observers cast their minds back to 1957 – and an equally remarkable two-seater sports car from Browns Lane. The XKSS came about after the company temporarily retired from competition racing in 1956. However, there were several unsold D-Types at the factory while Jaguar’s dealers in North America saw a demand for a “Class C” production racer.

17 February 2021

What makes a classic car appreciate in value?

Many classic car enthusiasts hope to make money from their hobby, but sadly not all of them are so lucky. So, what is it about a classic car that makes it appreciate in value? What factors should you consider when choosing a car as an investment? And how should you care for your car in a way that will boost its value over the years to come?

What is green laning?

Do you love driving? Enjoy a challenge? Want to get off the beaten track – literally? Then why not give green laning a try? This exciting hobby, which involves seeking out and exploring lesser known byways, is much loved by drivers of classic Land Rovers and other 4x4s. It’s a great way to remind yourself of those bygone days when motoring was still a thrill.

What is the Gay Classic Car Group?

The classic car community loves welcoming new owners into the fold. They’re a welcoming bunch who love sharing their passion with others, and passing on some of their motoring knowledge. With hundreds of classic car clubs up and down the country, you won’t have to look far to find a club that’s perfect for you and your vintage motor.

16 February 2021


‘Usually, the response is I drove one of those when working with BT. Or surprised to see one of those thought they had all rusted away. I enjoy going to car shows and like the response of people in regards to seeing an everyday car from years gone by’. The HA-Series Viva is indeed a rare sight; the production run was only from 1963 to 1966 and, as with several British vehicles of that era, it was prone to corrosion.

12 February 2021


In France the Estafette genuinely merits the term ‘iconic’; from mobile shops and ice-cream vans to mini-buses and as transport for the telephone service. The Renault could also be seen delivering bread, acting as a support vehicle at the Tour de France, and, as with Simon’s 1963 example, as a police van.

10 February 2021


'It was through my other half that I started getting into Maestros' remarks Lucy 'Steve has had many over the last 15 years and, after meeting him eight odd years ago, I got into the car scene.'


When Standard-Triumph planned the Vitesse, they intended its grille and quad headlamps to distinguish it from its cheaper stablemate. However, this has not prevented members of the public from greeting Ben’s 1967 example with ‘Wow - that’s a lovely Triumph Herald!’.

08 February 2021


Through no fault of their own, some cars never seemed to establish a niche in the UK. In Spain, the SEAT 133 was regarded as the heir to the 850. However, British motorists were perplexed by what seemed to be an enlarged Fiat 126. The Cherry Europe was the product of an ambitious agreement between Nissan and Alfa Romeo, but it seemed to have no apparent role in Datsun GB’s line-up.

05 February 2021


1981 - the year of the Royal Wedding, Adam and the Ants singing about the perils of being a dandy highwayman and BMXs making the Raleigh Grifter look passé. It was still a time of three-channel television, Sunday closing for shops, and the Ford Cortina as the best-selling car in the UK.


One of the most persistent debates in the world of classic cars is 'what was the first "Hot Hatchback?" The answer is often 'the Simca 1204', but here we are considering the first British-built examples of the genre. Some cars are automatically ruled out of contention; neither the Mini-Cooper nor the MG 1100/1300 were available with a factory-fitted tailgate.


Few, if any, people are likely to approach Davey on seeing his 1974 Nissan and tell him ‘my dad/mum/next-door neighbour/teacher used to have one of those’. The H250-Series President was never officially sold in the UK, and Mr. Peskett ‘only bought it by fluke from Japan’. In its homeland, this was the car for senior politicians, business tycoons and the Royal Family.

01 February 2021


‘It’s a bit of a wolf in sheep’s clothing. No extended wheel arches, very discreet “V8” badges and not a lot to give away its performance, asides from the four exhaust pipes’. Richard Monk is the General Manager of the MG Owners’ Club, a valued long term partner of Lancaster Insurance, and the custodian of a very special MG ZT-T XPower 385 - the only one built on the production line.

Time to get your tools in order!

With restrictions still in place for many of us, we wanted to spread some cheer among classic car enthusiasts and give you the opportunity to win some amazing prizes!

Don’t let your classic become a statistic

Our classics mean the world to us, and worryingly on our Facebook forum (The Classic Car Enthusiasts Forum – Powered by Lancaster Insurance) we’ve seen a spate of owners sharing the unfortunate news that their pride and joy has been stolen or involved in a fire, some of which haven’t had the right insurance in place.

Club of the Month – The Classic Corvette Club

Our first accolade of the year goes to the Classic Corvette Club UK (CCUK). An enthusiastic and friendly club, we have been working with the team for over five years and currently sit on their insurance panel, offering members a discount of up to 25% off their insurance premium.

January 2021

28 January 2021


We recently showcased the Rover 800, and Alex Sebbinger-Sparks is the proud owner of a rather notable top-of-the-range example. ‘Being registered in the first week of August 1986, this car was one of the first batches of “Silver Leaf” 800s’.

26 January 2021

What is the Sporting Bears Motor Club?

Classic cars are a source of joy for their owners – why not share that joy with children who are in need? That’s the idea behind Sporting Bears Motor Club, a group of classic car and sports car enthusiasts who come together to raise money for good causes and make children’s dreams come true.

25 January 2021


In the 1950s a Morris Oxford belonged to the same comfortably secure realm as The Billy Cotton Band Show and Mrs Dale’s Diary – which is why the Series V caused alarm and consternation on its launch in March 1959.


Picture the scene. It is the spring of 1986 and waiting at a set of traffic lights are a sober-looking new Volvo Estate and a 1977 Capri 3.0S Mk. II festooned with “Go Faster” stripes and driven by a Paul Calf-look-alike.

22 January 2021


Back in 2019, we posted a feature about the Traction Avant Commerciale, the car that is arguably the world’s first hatchback. And today, our star classic is Matthew’s 1956 example, which is used and enjoyed the way Citroën intended.


Some Limited Edition cars, along the lines of the Ford Zephyr 6 Mk. IV Special or the Hillman Hunter Topaz, were produced to clear the showrooms of soon to be replaced models. Others, such as the Morris Minor Million, the Mini 1100 Special or the Ford Capri 280 “Brooklands”, celebrated a milestone anniversary or marked the end of a highly respected vehicle.

Can you use E10 fuel in your classic car?

Motoring fans like nothing better than starting up their classic and taking it out for a regular run through the countryside. After all the pleasurable hours of tinkering, it’s fantastic to really let rip and soak up some admiring glances from other road users.

The Austin Metro turns 40

Much-loved cheeky 80s runabout the Austin Mini Metro turns 40 this year. Often the butt of jokes for being on the rusty, dowdy, unreliable side, the Austin Metro is now achieving a cult following from a new, younger crowd.

5 classic cars with crazy doors

Not all doors are created equal. While many of us know only the standard car door (supercar owners aside), there have been some innovative (some might call them crazy) attempts over the years to switch things up – with varying degrees of success, we might add.

21 January 2021


The Mini Cooper will be 60 years on 20th September, and naturally, we will be celebrating this milestone in summer. To best understand just how the Austin “Seven” Cooper/Morris Mini Cooper twins transformed the sports saloon, take a look at five potential rivals from 1961.


About twenty years ago, the first-generation Ford Fiesta seemed to largely vanish from Britain’s roads – which is one reason why Paul’s 1981 model attracts attention wherever it goes. And course, any Sandpiper II automatically stands out in any classic car gathering.

What to see at Beaulieu Motor Museum

If you’re planning a trip to Beaulieu any time soon, there’s a lot to offer any classic car enthusiast. You could get behind the scenes of BBC’s Top Gear to see cars of all shapes and sizes driven by The Stig and co. Or, you may prefer checking out some of TV and film’s most famous motors courtesy of the ever-changing On-Screen Cars exhibition. Think Del Boy’s Robin Reliant, Mr Bean’s Mini, Bond’s Jaguar XKR, and many, many more...

19 January 2021

8 of the best bubble cars

Bubble cars from the 1950s and 1960s have become increasingly collectable over the past few years. With their quirky designs, fuel efficiency, ease of maintenance and huge fun factor, bubble cars make a great way to enter the classic car club.


Some high-profile British cars struggle to transcend a negative image created by the problematic versions. The Hillman Imp falls into this category, as does the Austin Maxi and the Jensen-Healey. Yet it is often forgotten that the last-named was the best-selling vehicle to wear the Jensen name.

18 January 2021


By any standards, the 164 is a very special motor-car. It was the last of the “Tipo 4/Type 4” family, predated by the Fiat Croma, Lancia Thema and the Saab 9000. It was also the last Alfa Romeo developed before the Fiat takeover of 1986 and one of its generation’s finest sports saloons.


A short while ago, Steve was in search of a particular type of Morris Minor Traveller. His wife Marina particularly wanted a split-screen version fitted with an art deco fascia – ‘which turned out to be something of a rarity.

15 January 2021

Does my classic car need seat belts?

If you are the proud owner of a classic car, then depending on which year it was made it may or may not be fitted with seat belts. But what are the laws relating to seat belts in classics? What are the insurance implications? And if you don’t need belts, are there any restrictions to be aware of?

The best Japanese classics

Are you looking to invest in a classic? Perhaps this is your first foray into collecting classics, or perhaps you’re wanting to grow your already-sizeable collection. Either way, this is the fun part: choosing which motor to invest in.

What is the Mille Miglia?

In 1955, the late great Sir Stirling Moss won the Mille Miglia in a record time. His drive in the race has passed into legend as he managed to come out on top against the odds. Even if you’ve heard the story before, it never gets old…

A quick history of Le Mans

Just about everyone has heard of Le Mans – although not everyone has quite got the pronunciation down… They probably know that it’s a 24-hour race, but that’s where most people’s knowledge ends.

08 January 2021


1986 - the year I started sixth form and my first sighting of an imposing metallic silver saloon. It was a car that looked as though it could cope with any road conditions while barely dislodging the owner’s Filofax and A-ha cassettes. It was the new Rover Sterling, a car attempting to bridge the worlds of the Ford Granada Scorpio/Vauxhall Senator and BMW, Jaguar and Mercedes-Benz. Enthusiasts will tell you that it more than succeeded in this goal.

8 of the best hot hatches

Here are eight of the best hot hatches (in our humble opinion) from over the years - many of which we’re proud to cover here at Lancaster.

07 January 2021


1) When The Avengers first aired on 7th January 1961 - the leading man was Ian Hendry as Dr. David Keel, supported by Patrick Macnee as the intelligence agent John Steed.

Classic Fords you remember from childhood

No matter how young or old you are, you’ll remember Fords on the streets of your hometown. From Anglias to Zodiacs, the Ford range over the decades has been quite extraordinary. So which Ford model makes you go all misty-eyed? Jog your memory by reading all about our top 12 Fords in the UK from the 1960s to the 1980s.

06 January 2021

Best places to watch the sunrise in your campervan

You don’t need to be a druid or wait until summer solstice to watch the sunrise. There are beautiful places around the UK that make the perfect spot for you to park up your campervan and enjoy one of nature’s greatest shows.


There was once a time when the HA van was part of the daily routine. It might have delivered your post or your new DER television set, distributed the Co-Op’s groceries or attended to yet another malfunctioning telephone box.


The Austin 152 and its Morris J2 twin deserve to be remembered for many reasons. In 1956, they were BMC’s first unitary-construction vans and familiar sights long after production ended in 1967. And they also provided the basis for some delightful motor caravans, such as Steve’s Paralanian motor home

04 January 2021


‘They love it, but some are unsure of what it is as they’ve never seen one before.’ Such a public reaction to Anna’s Fiat 132 Bellini is quite understandable, for it was an unusual sight even when it was new 41 years ago. ‘Beautiful, si?’ read the original advertisements; for here was transport for those whose sartorial role model was “Lewis Collins in Lounge Lizard Mode”.

December 2020

30 December 2020

Best French classic cars

Choosing a Top 10 of French classics is a near-impossible task, with the likes of Renault, Peugeot and Citroën competing against each other as well as lesser-known gems. So, we’ve picked out 10 examples of great cars from the post-war era up to the 1980s that still hold huge appeal for motoring enthusiasts today.

23 December 2020

DVLA update on the use of black and silver number plates

The DVLA has recently announced changes to information on vehicles displaying the old style pre-1973 black and silver number plates.


Any Z-Series MG is an object of desire – one of the finest British sports saloons of the 1950s and certainly one of the most beautiful. But this 1955 ZA is an exclusive motor-car even by Magnette standards. Not only does it have a total mileage of 54,000, but one family has owned it from new. And it has delighted motoring enthusiasts on both sides of the Atlantic.

22 December 2020


Was it really 45 years ago that this writer avidly scanned the Dinky brochure for possible birthday and Christmas presents? From 1934 until 1979 the company based at Binns Road in Liverpool produced models that set the benchmark for British die-cast. This newsreel captures the factory in 1967 as it produces one of my favourite Dinky toys – the Fiat 2300 Estate “Pathé Newsreel Camera Car”

21 December 2020


A highlight of the May 1993 edition of Car magazine was Roger Bell’s evaluation of a 620SLi opposite the BMW 318i, the Citroen Xantia 2.0 and the Ford Mondeo 2.0 GLX. His article was headlined ‘Rover bites back’, and he concluded:

Top Ten Screen Motoring Clichés

Or – what I have learned over several decades of viewing: 1) “Period Dramas” in which virtually every car is a new or recent model for that year. The road footage of almost any 1950s or 1960s newsreel will contain a multitude of elderly vehicles. And just take a look at The Sweeney, with its armies of corroding Austin A60 Cambridges and Singer Vogues on the streets of Hammersmith and Battersea

18 December 2020


There is a select group of cars that are so quietly efficient and dependable that they were often taken for granted during their lifetime. The Vauxhall Senator is one such vehicle – purposeful, luxurious and rather handsome. Plus, in 24v form, one of the great Q-Cars of the late 1980s and early 1990s.

17 December 2020


At first, it looks like any other example of the exquisite Armstrong Siddeley Star Sapphire – until you notice those quad headlamps. Then you realise that it is fitted with a larger rear screen and more prominent rear wings while the cabin features front head restraints that double as picnic tables for the occupants of the back seat. This is the one and only example of the Star Sapphire Mk. 2.

16 December 2020


The Reliant 3/25 family is so well-known in the UK that the impact of the original Regal three-wheeler is frequently overlooked. Today they are chiefly spotted at car shows or in the background of 1950s and 1960s British film, but this was the vehicle that helped to transform the marque’s image.

15 December 2020


The Ford Granada Mk. I Estate has to be one of the most attractive station wagons of the 1970s – and the rarest. Some of us of a certain age will remember the green metallic example driven by “Jeffrey Fourmile” in George and Mildred and today Matt’s 1975 2.5 “Series 2” is almost guaranteed to cause a sensation. After all, there can be very few examples of a ‘completely unrestored original 45,000-mile car never been welded or messed about with’ still on the road.

What to do if you’ve lost your MOT certificate

An MOT has been an important part of owning a vehicle for many years. It’s a test that is carried out on cars, vans, campervans, motorbikes and lorries annually. If you’re buying a new vehicle, it will require its first test after three years – and yearly after that.

14 December 2020


In the years immediately before the launch of the MGB GT in 1965, a sports car enthusiast who craved greater weather protection for winter had a limited choice. None of the “Big Five” manufacturers offered a sleek 2+2 tourer with the partial exception of the Consul Capri GT. However, the sort of motorist who favoured flat hats and club blazers would probably have regarded the Ford as transport for flashy types who used too much aftershave.

11 December 2020

How to care for your classic convertible’s hood

While you might have classic car insurance in place to protect you against any mishaps, you don’t really want to be claiming on your policy for something that was avoidable. That’s why we’re bringing you some tips on how to care for your classic convertible’s hood.


During the 1960s Tri-ang’s “Spot-On” models - so-called because its products were precisely to 1/42 scale – often seemed a cut above those of Corgi or Dinky. Sales commenced in April 1959 and from the outset their die-cast toys featured interior detailing, predating both of its major rivals. They also adopted a ‘constant scale’ policy, at a time when the products of other manufacturers would vary according to need.

10 December 2020


When Tony Bastable took the Fiat X1/9 through its paces for Thames Television’s Drive In - - he reported ‘it’s got style, its lively and it handles beautifully’. At that time British motorists had been awaiting imports of the X1/9 for several years. By 1974 Radbourne Racing Ltd. offered a RHD conversion, but it would not be until January 1977 when Fiat would officially launch a UK-market version.


The year is 1967, and your dilemma is a) craving a new Porsche 911 while b) having a most unsympathetic bank manager. Fortunately, the Rootes Group had just launched a new car ‘for men whose wives think they’ve given up sports cars’. The advertisement further invited the reader to ‘show her how luxuriously saloon it is – four deep seats, the front ones reclining, plenty of room, and swish twin headlamps’.


In July 1965, the nation’s toy shops stocked a new type of die-cast model car – ‘Corgi Toys - ‘The One’s With Windows’.  At a time when rival products lacked such a feature, this was important news indeed for the discerning consumer. Corgi cars also came in individual illustrated boxes while Dinky Toys supplied their products in trade-packs to retailers.

09 December 2020


When Autocar tested the 2.0 GLS Sports Hatch in February 1980, they accurately described it as ‘just plain nice’. It was a truly desirable machine – less overtly aggressive in appearance than the Ford Capri Mk. III - and a Jade Green Metallic Sports Hatch was as much of its era as bomber jackets and Harp lager in thin glasses. And although the Cavalier Mk. I was Luton’s interpretation of the Opel Manta B; the Sports Hatch was a British creation.


While watching certain Australian television shows during the 1970s and 1980s, I sometimes noticed a very peculiar looking car in some background shots. Whether the programme was Skippy – which I will admit to enjoying, Prisoner: Cell Block H (which I won’t) or the early BBC screening of Neighbours (ditto), there might be a vehicle resembling a love-child of a Wolseley 1500 and a Ford Anglia 105E.

Car of the month!

We wanted our last ‘Car of the Month’ award of 2020 to be extra special and the winning recipient’s classic is just that – a 1973 Porsche 914-4! Paul Hibbert entered his example into the Lancaster Insurance Pride of Ownership display at last month’s online NEC event and was crowned the winner! Painted in period ‘’Zambezi Green’ and with classic Fuchs alloy wheels, we can see why it captured viewers’ attention.

08 December 2020


During the (very remote) youth of this writer, there were three virtually guaranteed sights in his Hampshire village. Firstly, as if by ancient rite, every farmyard had to contain a disused Audax-series Hillman Minx. Secondly, every week a dark green Ford Transit Mk. I mobile shop would dispense Twix bars and other essentials to the remote settlements of the A27-belt. And thirdly, no day seemed to pass without sighting of at least one Vauxhall Viva HC.

07 December 2020


Tony very accurately describes his 1978 Renault as ‘Uniquely stylish’, for the 16 could never be confused with any other car. It is a vehicle that revels in its idiosyncrasies such as the virtually hidden handbrake and the many and various ways of arranging the passenger accommodation. After all, very few cars can boast a rear seat folding mechnanism that involves suspending the backrest from the grab handles.

Lancaster Insurance’ Christmas Opening/Closing Times

From everybody at Lancaster Insurance, we hope you all have a Merry Christmas and a prosperous start to the New Year! Below are the opening and closing times over the festive period, should you need to speak to one of our team.


Chris had two reasons for buying his Cashmere Gold Austin Metro Vanden Plas. Firstly, he is a fan of the Kingsbury-based coachbuilder, and also owns a VDP 1500. Secondly, he has also been a Metro enthusiast ‘since the launch at the NEC in 1980...queuing up at the stand waiting to sit in this award-winning car’.

04 December 2020


‘People really like her. I think it is because she is exactly as she came out of the showroom and not been made into another modified Escort in bright orange. She appeals to all ages. The longer I have kept her, the more interest she gets’. Aubone is an Anglia enthusiast of many years standing, but his taste in Fords is not restricted to the 105E. MFJ 839 W is one of the last Escort Mk. IIs – and it looks quite resplendent in “Diamond White”.


It is the morning of the 25th December, and you are handing a carefully wrapped package. What could be the wonders contained inside? At worst, it could be the box-set of every edition of Take The High Road -the soap opera where nothing seemed to happen bar the theft of a jar of raspberry jam from the local shop. But, the gift could equally be the accessory you had long craved to enhance your car of choice.

03 December 2020


‘A combination of everything that is best in Continental craftsmanship plus the experience gained in many racing successes in the 1,500cc class’. At first glance, this may appear typical 1956 vintage advertising copy designed to persuade a motorist to call FREmantle 5471 to arrange a test drive. Yet the Borgward Isabella really was that good – and in fact, has a fair claim to being one of the finest German cars of the 1950s.